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If you like Daniel Inouye's story, you might also like:
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Daniel Inouye
Daniel Inouye
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Daniel Inouye Interview (page: 3 / 6)

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  Daniel Inouye

You said you were lucky. How big a factor do you think luck is in life?

Daniel Inouye: I was hoping you wouldn't ask me this.

I'm supposed to be a normal, sane type person, but after you go through war and such, you become superstitious. I am convinced that somebody is looking after me. Now for example, when I was wounded the last time -- I was wounded four times, that's how lucky I am -- none of them killed me. The last one was a terrible one. The arm flew off and everything else. It took nine hours to evacuate me. I was wounded just about noontime, but I stuck around until three, when I felt that the platoon was in shape, then I said, "I'm ready to go." From three to midnight, because everything was on a stretcher. Today, if I had been wounded under the same circumstances, I would have been evacuated by helicopter and I'd be in a hospital within 30 minutes. As a result, in my regiment -- the regiment I served in -- no double amputee survived, because they bled to death. No brain injury survived, and that's what the nature of war was like.

[ Key to Success ] Integrity

So here I am, I get to the hospital at midnight. I'm in a room about -- oh, five times this size -- it was a tent. And you can see hundreds of stretchers lined up, and some of the men are dead, some are severely wounded. And there were about three or four teams of doctors and nurses going up and down the line and they're mumbling. But after awhile I'm watching them, and it became very clear that they were deciding. This one? "Immediately in the surgical room, because he needs treatment." Next one? "You can wait. Not that serious." The third category? "God bless you." Well when the doctors came by, and the nurses, they looked me over and they put me in that category. Category three, that they say good-bye. Because the hospital had so much in resources and so many nurses, and so many doctors, and so many beds. They couldn't accommodate all. And some of them were already dead or unconscious. So when the chaplain came by, and he's following the doctors, he came by and he looked at me. "Son, God loves you." I said, "Oh yes, I know God loves me. I love God too, but I'm not ready to see him." He looked at me, he said, "You're serious aren't you?" I said, "Absolutely. I'm not ready to go yet." He ran up to the doctors, and I don't know what he said, he was mumbling away. Doctors came by, looked me over, shipped me out right away to the operating room. I had to do my first surgical procedure without anesthesia because they were afraid that I might not wake up. See how lucky I am?

[ Key to Success ] Courage

We'd like you to retrace your steps to your life before the war. Could you tell us about where you were born?

Daniel Inouye: I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. In fact, I can just about picture it for you. Across from the Pacific Club. Ironically, the Pacific Club was a club for the titans of industry. The Big Boys. But I think it might be a bit more interesting if I told you a few years before then...

My grandparents, from the southern island of Japan, Kyushu, walked all the way from Kyushu to Tokyo, Yokohama, to get on a ship -- and this was the first of July, I believe, or fourth of July -- on the Shanghai Maru. It took about 30 days, arrived in Honolulu about the 25th of July, 1899. To work in a plantation. They were given about three days of health examinations and such, and on the 28th they were shipped off to the island of Kauai. And there they worked in the plantations for over 20 years. They had a goal to make $300, because the family had a debt that had to be paid, which was a matter of honor for them. My father had had gone over as a child of two. About that time a law was passed by the United States making it impossible for any one of these immigrants to become naturalized, no matter how good they were. But that was the beginning.

Daniel Inouye Interview Photo

My father was, I would say, a Buddhist. My grandparents are Buddhist. My mother, on the other hand, was a child of immigrant parents also, from Hiroshima, on the island of Maui, but at the time of her birth her mother died. And then her father died four years later, so here she was literally on the street. Because her father was a plantation worker, and no longer in existence, so that house went to the next worker. But fortunately, about a month after his passing, a young Hawaiian couple came by, took her by the hand, and took her home, and in the Hawaiian fashion adopted her: hanai. She was also brought up as a Buddhist as a child. But about a year after the Hawaiian family had discovered her, she was also discovered by the Methodist pastor in Lahaina. And he took the attitude "Orphans belong in orphanages," and so shipped her off to Honolulu as a young child. But here everything changes. She went to the orphanage, and on the first Sunday afternoon all the young girls of Asian extraction were lined up, and the bishop of the church came by and they went through the ritual: "What is your name? What would you like?" And the answer was always, "A piece of candy." My mother had no idea what it was. So she said, "I want a home." And the bishop took her home, believe it or not, and she was adopted by the bishop. So until she passed away, her two sisters were blonde and blue-eyed, her brother blond and blue-eyed, and her father's name was Daniel Kleinfelter. Dr. Bishop Daniel Kleinfelter. I'm named after him. So that's my beginning.

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This page last revised on Mar 24, 2011 22:02 EST
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